Do we each have a predetermined, yet undisclosed, human destiny? Or are we the masters of our own fate? Either believing that events in human life are “written in the stars” or that the divine will for us may include instability or disruption of good can lead to passive acceptance when faced with difficulty. On the other hand, thinking we are self-made and self-determined may produce swings from optimism and motivation to fear of falling short of the wherewithal to meet our needs.
Neither a belief in a mixed-bag destiny nor human self-determination truly hits the mark. But what about a spiritual view of life, based on an understanding of God that can enable anyone to perceive and fulfill his or her best potential?
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, taught that God is divine Principle, or universal Father, whose light and order, perfection and goodness, are reflected throughout His creation. Principle is a beautiful descriptor that, to me, expresses the fact that God’s goodness is unceasingly expressed toward us, and in us. In the Bible, James 1:17 puts it this way: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (New International Version).
The Bible also teaches us that man is the reflection or image of God (see Genesis 1). God’s reflection is as infinite as God is. So, as God’s children, our true destiny involves expressing, in unique ways, the unlimited possibilities the infinite God has enabled us to express as His spiritual reflection.
The fact that all we really are originates in Principle predetermines our destiny as being good. Christ Jesus understood this. Through healing the sick and reforming the sinner, he proved that evil isn’t to be patiently endured or tacitly accepted. It is to be understood to have no permanent influence or right of control, and to be resisted and rejected at every point. He referred to evil, or the devil, as a lie (see John 8:44). If evil – including disease, disaster, limitation, and fear – is unknown to God, the creative Principle, it has no part in our destiny. Just as darkness has no part in light, evil has no part in divine Principle or in Principle’s image and likeness.
After being widowed, I made an offer to purchase a new house. This was no snap decision. It was the result of prayer and consideration of our family’s needs, so I felt confident I was making a wise move. But questions arose about the timing between the sale of our present home and the one we had contracted to buy, and I became fearful the deal could collapse. Seeking reassurance, I shared my concerns with a friend, who replied, “If it is God’s will, it will go through.”
Although I knew she wanted to be encouraging, I felt my friend’s response suggested that I couldn’t know the way forward and what steps to take, but had to wait on a manlike god to decide our fate. Something in me rebelled at this thought that my life included what seemed to me to be a vague “If” factor. I prayed to understand what it meant to be the reflection of my creator – to express the wisdom, creativity, and spiritual intuition that discerns and acts on good and only good.
I silently, fervently yielded to the Christ-idea of God and my relation to God – showing me that nothing could prevent the fulfillment of good in our lives, because the divine Principle of our lives guarantees a progressive, fruitful path of unfolding good. I embraced my unity with God, trusting that I reflected the ability to know what to do and how to do it. As my prayer erased all inquietude, a perfectly timed solution appeared that satisfied both sets of buyers and sellers, and the purchase was completed.
A useful statement can be found in “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” by Mary Baker Eddy: “The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy; hence we find him ever the same, – at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen” (p. 147).
God’s plan for every one of us is good, and only good. And divine Principle works in us and for us to assure that we fulfill our individual and unique destiny to express that divine good.